"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Use 'attrition strategy' to control immigration

Here's an idea...enforce the laws as they exist now...wow, that's novel. This is one of those things that makes the present arguments aimless. We've got laws on the books now, but with no enforcement they are worth no more than the paper they are printed on. I don't have alot of faith in our pols.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

It happened last Wednesday, and it was nicely timed.

One week later -- about now, in fact -- the Senate was scheduled to reconvene to discuss an immigration bill. The bill proposes an amnesty for most of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States and to admit millions more legally as guest workers. It is a controversial measure, strongly promoted by the White House and both party leaderships in the Senate but opposed by most Republican members of Congress and a large majority of voters.

Something was needed to break the logjam of opposition.

So Wednesday federal agents "swooped" on plants in 26 states belonging to IFCO, a U.S. subsidiary of a Dutch firm supplying wood pallets and plastic containers to industry, and arrested 1,187 illegal immigrant workers. Seven former and current IFCO managers were charged with employing illegal aliens.

Next day -- Thursday -- Homeland Security czar Michael Chertoff held a press conference to stress that such tough enforcement of immigration law, internally as well as at the border, would now be the rule. Having established its willingness to crack down on illegality, the administration's political machine crossed its fingers and hoped that this display would now help passage of the "Not an Amnesty" law.

All this was not only timely; it was powerfully symbolic. What it symbolized, however, was not the tough enforcement of immigration law but its colander-like leaky ineffectiveness. For even before Chertoff had spoken, four-fifths of the illegals arrested had been released. Two hundred and seventy-five illegals were deported. The rest were sent away in return for a promise to return for a court hearing. Many, probably most, will now disappear. And since the government's computers were "down" at the time, their brush with immigration enforcement may not even be officially recorded.

How long has this been going on? In a recent column I suggested -- wrongly, my apologies -- there had been little or no enforcement of employer sanctions since the passage of the 1986 amnesty law. All enforcement had been at the border, rather than internally throughout the United States. Once an illegal reached a major city such as Los Angeles, Phoenix or Chicago, he was safe from official interest and could work unmolested.

That was not quite accurate. President Clinton had been nervous of immigration as a political issue since he had lost the governorship of Arkansas after the "Mariel" incident. He blamed his defeat on a voter backlash to Fidel Castro's emptying the Cuban jails onto a ship headed for Florida and to the sanctuary of America. He was cautious thereafter. "Internal" enforcement of employer sanctions under Clinton was patchy but not wholly lax.

For instance, in the years 1995, 1996 and 1997, there were between 10,000 and 18,000 work-site arrests of illegals annually. In the same years about 1,000 employers were served notices of fines for employing them. Under the Bush administration, work-site arrests fell to 159 in 2004 when there was also the princely total of three notices of intent to fine served on employers.

Three! (My apologies again. I had erroneously cited the figure of "four" such notices in my recent column.)

In this dramatic relaxation of internal enforcement is the explanation of the rapidly rising estimate of immigrants living and working illegally in this country. In the last year it has risen by more than a million. For if people know that they are likely to be safe from enforcement once they escape the border area and reach L.A. or Chicago, then they will keep trying even if they were caught and returned to their country of origin any number of times.

Porous borders are not only the cause of uncontrolled immigration; they are its result. You cannot control the borders, however many patrols you hire or fences you build, if you grant an effective pardon to anyone who gets 100 miles inland. It's as simple as that.

Some supporters of the "Not an Amnesty" bill cite this history as a reason for Congress to allow all or almost all of the estimated 12 million illegals to remain in the country. President Bush, who has helped make this problem much worse, said Monday we simply could not deport millions of people since the country has no stomach for workplace raids and mass deportations.

That argument sits oddly alongside two facts. First, Bush administration officials just rounded up 1,187 illegals precisely because they thought it would be a popular move and thus likely to smooth the path of an unpopular amnesty law. Second, the United States currently deports (or insists on the "voluntary departure" of) about 1.2 million people annually.

Most of these are people apprehended and returned at the border. But about 100,000 illegal immigrants are removed from the interior of the country every year. And most Americans support this law enforcement rather than regarding it as a policy of "Gestapo" tactics.

If the law were enforced more uniformly, the number of people deported would rise substantially even if, as last Thursday, only one-fifth of those detained were eventually sent back over the border. That would send a message to those considering illegal entry that they could no longer depend on legal immunity and secure employment once inside America. Those illegals already here, finding their opportunities drying up, would have an incentive to return home legally even if only to increase their chances of legal immigration later.

These changes would occur gradually, allowing businesses to adapt to the tighter labor market. And the border would, seemingly by magic, become less porous as interior law enforcement reduced the incentive to cross it.

This is called "the attrition strategy" by Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies. It is far more practical than either amnesty or a guest-worker program. And it requires neither legislation nor official game-playing to implement it. By contrast, every time the unpopular Bush-Senate "compromise" bill meets an obstacle, Karl Rove will have to pick up a telephone and utter the famous line from Casablanca:

"Round up the usual suspects."

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let Brian know at what level you would like to participate**

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